My Journey into Startup Weekend Diversity Miami
I was devastated after losing at a national pitch competition with my startup KlosetKarma.co last year. I had invested so much energy into this Vegas trip, not even mentioning money…and I lost right at the first judging round.
While sitting at the sore losers’ corner, thinking about all the different ways I could party my pathetic failure away in Vegas, I met a guy. His startup journey had began at Startup Weekend, but I had no idea what that meant by then.
Startup Weekend what?!
After I got back to Miami, we had to find a good excuse to catch up again, so he invited me to join him at Startup Weekend Tampa Bay…and of course I said yes, but I really had no clue what I was getting myself into, yet.
After he explained in detail, I kinda panicked. I’ve had never done anything like it before, and didn’t know what to expect. I was afraid to be thrown rotten tomatoes for pitching a dumb idea or that nobody would want a nontechnical girl at their teams, so I was feeling pretty much like a fake at a tech event.
But my friend told me:
“Paula, there’s a space for everybody at Startup Weekend. Plus you have so much to offer. If makes you feel better, nobody will throw rotten tomatoes at you, trust me.”
And so I did. I decided to jump at this real life experiment with an open heart, and long story short, after a weekend of incredibly challenging and transformative experiences, I made it to the finals and won second place with my either brilliant or kinda lame app idea. The same one I wasn’t sure to share with this “unique” group of individuals (below).
This weekend had such a profound impact in myself, going from “I can’t” to “I did” attitude, I became a non-technical startup ninja (as it shows by my SW sweatband). The crazy thing is that even though I already had launched a startup, and I have been running a creative agency named Crea7ive.com for 8 years with my sister Pia Celestino, I still didn’t have enough confidence in myself to participate in an event like this.
Soon after, I realized that the best part of my Startup Weekend experience wasn’t winning.
It was about allowing myself out of my comfort zone, facing my fears, breaking my own creative barriers, and learning to collaborate with incredibly talented and likeminded people. Yes, all in one crazy roller coaster weekend ride.
Coming out of this accelerating and empowering experience, I was determined to bring Startup Weekend to my community in Miami, Fl.
Miami being such a young booming hub for technology startups, it’s the perfect environment for community building events such as Startup Weekend. Where people with ideas meet people that have the tools and resources to bring those - now, better ideas - come to life in a weekend long “love-hate” journey. Right now, all the talent in this city is basically clustered and disconnected. For this reason, now is the perfect moment to have a Startup Weekend in Miami.
Given that Miami is a huge melting pot, it was only natural to think of a “diversity” theme. The objective is to bring people together, create a collaborating experience and break tech barriers for everyone in the community no matter gender, age, ethnicity, background or technical ability. To inspire and empower people into creative doers and breaking away from tech stereotypes and misconceptions, like the ones that I had of myself before I did Startup Weekend.
I thought, there are so many people that feel their gender, age, ethnicity, background or technical ability is a barrier into the startup world.
Bringing Startup Weekend to Miami became my passion and mission, so much, that no matter how many closed doors I found (for months), or people getting fired, team members dropping left and right, regional managers changing three times…I continued to pursue Startup Weekend Diversity Miami like a boss :)
Finally, after a few long months of pushing hard I made it happen, Startup Weekend Diversity Miami will take place May 29-31 at Venture Hive, Downtown Miami. And even though we still have plenty of work to do, so far we have an amazing location, fantastic sponsors, great mentors and judges confirmed and a kick-ass facilitator (which used to be our original UP Global regional manager). In addition to all that, we are planning a freaking awesome “Silicon Valley” style after party.
So I couldn’t be more excited!
Organizing a Startup Weekend event hasn’t been the easiest task, but so far it has been an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience, where I’ve been making new incredible friends along the way, and continue to build a purpose driven path for myself and those around me.
Who knew that failing so miserably a few months ago could now be the reason I am feeling like a true CHAMP!
Now hit play and dance with me!
OK, Now…let’s save those moves for later ☺
LASTLY, BIG SHOUT-OUT TO ARTURO MENDEZ FOR MAKING THIS AWESOME VIDEO IN ENGLISH FOR STARTUP WEEKEND MIAMI!